Dhoni lords over Australia

Dhoni lords over Australia

Cricket First Test: Skippers maiden unbeaten double century helps India build 135-run lead

Dhoni lords over Australia

 As Virat Kohli approached his hundred on Sunday at the MA Chidambaram stadium, social media fora flooded with messages for female fans across the country, warning them of the most choicest of expletives to be uttered by Kohli soon.

But for once, there was no anger and swearwords. Emotions were kept in check. On view was pure joy and contentment after registering his fourth Test hundred, and that too when the team was in need of big runs from him.

His second successive Test hundred (102) against Australia – first came at Adelaide in January 2012 – was pivotal in India reaching 515 for eight at close for a lead of 135 runs and snatching the initiative from the Australians.

There was this blistering counter-attacking double hundred by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (206 batting) and his 128-run association with Kohli for the fifth wicket played no little part in India’s surge, but the story the Delhi lad scripted on the day was really compelling -- one of maturity and ability to rise to the occasion.

Kohli and his overnight partner Sachin Tendulkar couldn’t precisely continue their fluent ways on the third morning as Aussie pacers James Pattinson, who bowled five consecutive overs, and Peter Siddle bottled them up with accurate spells. In fact the Indian batsmen could manage only 14 runs from 11 overs during that period. The two fast bowlers created a lot more chances in the first hour of the morning session, and their consistent efforts bore fruits when offie Nathan Lyon came to bowl.

Kept on a tight leash by Pattinson and Siddle and starved of boundaries, Tendulkar tried to break the shackles with a drive through covers, but a sharply spinning off-break rattled his timber after taking a faint inside edge. At 196 for four, India were far from safe shores and demanded an innings of substance particularly from Kohli since he was well-set in the middle.

He accepted that responsibility with glee, and the calm presence of his skipper at the other end too might have helped his cause. Despite making a hundred against England in the fourth Test at Nagpur in December last year, Kohli’s form has taken a dip in recent times, rendering him a pale shadow of the confident batsman that he was in the earlier part of 2012.

But on the day he was determined to grind his way through. Once he survived the phase in which the Australian pace bowlers put him through wringer, Kohli slowly began to unfurl a few delightful shots. He signaled the change in approach with a six off Lyon, a power-packed pull over mid-wicket.

From that point Kohli appeared a lot more liberated, and showed a welcome alertness to punish anything loose. The big moment finally arrived when he dug out a full-length delivery by Pattinson for four, and then came that little, sweet celebration – marked deviation from his manners on earlier occasions.

Dhoni’s sixth hundred in Tests was of equal importance in India gaining ascendancy in this Test. His knock was based on the most primeval of sporting principles – counter attack. The Jharkhand man took a short while to assess the pitch and the bowlers, but two boundaries off Lyon – a lofted shot over mid-on and a sweep through deep mid-wicket, and Dhoni was in his element – powerful arms sending the red cherry constantly to the ropes.

Once Dhoni entered his zone, there was hardly anything the Australians could have done apart from watching in awe and no little frustration the wicketkeeper-batsman and Kohli snatching the momentum away from them. However, Kohli would be disappointed simply because he couldn’t carry on despite looking solid, his attempt to clear Lyon over infield ending in the hands of Mitchell Starc.

Still 56 runs ahead, Australians would have fancied their chances of snatching a slender lead but Dhoni ensured no such joy for the visitors. Once Kohli departed, there was a steady trickle of wickets at the other end, but Dhoni was as immovable as a rock, notching up his maiden double hundred in Test cricket.

But the way he marshaled the late order, Bhuvneshwar Kumar in particular was impeccable, and the two stitched together 109 for the unbeaten ninth wicket alliance that ensured that there could only be one winner in this match.

Score board

AUSTRALIA (I Innings): 380 all out

INDIA (I Innings, O/n: 182/3):

Vijay b Pattinson    10
(17m, 15b, 2x4)
Sehwag b Pattinson    2
(28m, 11b)
Pujara b Pattinson    44
(116m, 74b, 6x4)
Tendulkar b Lyon    81
(257m, 159b, 7x4)
Kohli c Starc b Lyon    107
(266m, 206b, 13x4, 1x6)
Dhoni (batting)    206
(340m, 243b, 22x4, 5x6)
Jadeja b Pattinson    16
(63m, 45b, 3x4)
Ashwin b Lyon    3
(13m, 6b)
Harbhajan b Henriques    11
(37m, 31b, 1x6)
Bhuvneshwar (batting)    16
(111m, 56b, 2x4)

Extras (B-2, LB-14, W-3)    19

Total (for 8 wkts, 141 overs)    515

Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Vijay), 2-12 (Sehwag), 3-105 (Pujara), 4-196 (Tendulkar), 5-324 (Kohli), 6-365 (Jadeja), 7-372 (Ashwin), 8-406 (Harbhajan).

Bowling: Starc 25-3-75-0 (w-2), Pattinson 26-5-89-4 (w-1), Siddle 22-5-61-0, Lyon 40-1-182-3, Henriques 17-4-48-1, Clarke 8-2-25-0, Warner 3-0-19-0.


Dhoni fact file

* MS Dhoni scored his sixth Test century (206 n.o.) which is also his highest score. His previous best was 148 against Pakistan in Faisalabad in 2006.
* Dhoni’s double hundred is the highest individual score by an Indian wicket-keeper. He surpassed Budhi Kunderan's 192 against England in 1964, also in Chennai.
* Dhoni holds the record for scoring four of the top six individual scores by Indian wicketkeepers.
* Dhoni is just 27 runs short of going past Andy Flower's record for the highest score by a wicketkeeper (232).
* Dhoni's 206 is now joint-fifth on the list of highest individual scores by Indian batsmen against Australia. The highest is VVS Laxman's 281 in Kolkata in 2001.
* Indians have now scored seven double-centuries agai­nst Australia in Tests since 2000. England are second with three double-hundreds.
* Dhoni’s double ton is also the highest score by an Indian captain against Australia surpassing Mohammad Azharuddin's 163 in Kolkata in 1998.
* Dhoni became the seventh wicketkeeper to go past the 4000-run mark in Tests. His average is the third-highest behind Andy Flower and Adam Gilchrist.

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